Picture Talk: A Discipulus Illustris Follow-Up

Adriana Ramirez shared videos of her and her students doing Picture Talk on Facebook. I apologize if you can’t see them, but the reality is that most of my professional groups have now migrated to FB, which is becoming THE way to remain current in the field, apparently.

Adriana used old family photos for Picture Talk topics of conversation (keeping in mind “conversations” with Novice language learners are interactive, yet require just a few words from students. The teacher—to the dismay of clueless evaluators—SHOULD be doing most of the talking, here). Once her students developed a higher proficiency level by the end of the second year, she had them bring in their own pictures to talk about. I find it amazing that Adriana continued to provide input, and encourage interaction all throughout the “presentation” of the main student by engaging the class with questions, and checking back in with the main student—basically using Storyasking actor questioning techniques. In a more conventional rule-based language classroom, the teacher would be hands-off, and other students likely bored after 5 or 6 presentations. Not in Adriana’s class.

I instantly thought of how this could follow up Discipulus Illustris (one of 7 language versions of La Persona Especial). Although Adriana had second year students do the presenting, you could do this early on with students of lower proficiency—just be the one providing input and encouraging interaction. To do this, a student emails you a pic to use as a prop. Yes, students are great props, but something novel to look at should grab the attention of others just because it’s different, and fools the mind into thinking the activity is completely different while you could be asking the very same Discipulus Illustris questions about the picture!

I love how it’s no-prep. Actually, it’s can’t-prep, which is exciting on its own. Sure, you could preview the pic (especially if you have students engaging in tomfoolery often), but part of the fun is keeping it lively with unexpected, compelling diversions from what is likely a boring school day. Teachers need to feel energized as well, so try something new.

Free Writes: Who can write the…FEWEST?!

Whether it’s the first Timed Write (e.g. Free Write, or Story Retell) in September, or the final one during the last few weeks of school, you can turn any writing prompt into a game that everyone can participate in, with…

“Who can write the fewest words, but say the most…about X?”

What is X? Anything; describing oneself, TV show, sports match, or expressing thoughts on first days of high school, summer off, or graduating. The best part? This is a Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA) springboard.

Jim Tripp’s BINGO 2.0 + & Kuhner’s 9

BINGO is pretty much a waste of time, however fun it might be, which we all know can’t be that much or last long because…well…it’s BINGO.

Jim Tripp has just breathed new life into this classic game, however, by providing massive amounts of input via circumlocution. It’s a brilliant idea, really, and quite simple to pull off!

This would also be a convenient time to implement Kuhner’s 9 Vocabulary Strategies. While the strategies aren’t appropriate for establishing meaning, and likely require output beyond most students’ capabilities (or just add too much time to whatever you’re doing), they  fit really, really well here with Jim’s BINGO reboot.

Stolz’ Daily Routine PPT

If you missed Chris Stolz’ daily routine, go check out his post for the details. I like how this is both an extension, and reminder of his “how should I teach boring stuff?” post from years ago; just 2 minutes for the boring stuff, and then personalization really starts to lift off! Note how easily this daily routine could launch into a scene, or complete story!

Here’s a PowerPoint (ppt) to help get you comfortable with a daily routine:

Stolz’ Daily Routine PPT